The Government has confirmed that it is to introduce legislation before the summer that will force political parties to ensure that women make up a minimum of 30% of their candidates at the next general election.

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said parties that do not adopt the gender quota will have their State funding cut by 50%.

He said the parties have four years to plan for the change.

The National Women’s Council of Ireland has welcomed the announcement.

Orla O'Connor, head of policy with the NWCI, described the announcement as a good start but said they would like to see a 50/50 split between male and female candidates.

However, Independent TD for Dublin Central Maureen O'Sullivan described the plan as tokenistic saying women are well capable of getting nominated without additional help.